Are Accent Walls Just Hokey?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Currently, every room in our apartment is painted white. While I love the bright, white feeling of our light-colored walls, I also crave a little color. Recently, I've been thinking about dark, deep hues. I am actually debating whether or not to paint an accent wall behind the head of our bed and leave the rest of the room white. In the past, I would never have considered an accent wall, but lately I am feeling the appeal of a less-than-full commitment to color.

When I find myself thinking of my favorite interior designers, I can't imagine them painting an accent wall, which makes me think it's not the way to go -- I should stick with white or go colorful on all four walls. What do you think, are accent walls just plain hokey, or are they sometimes okay?

If we do, do an accent wall, I'm thinking of a hue like the one above, which is a half-and-half mix of Twilight and Gentleman's Gray by Benjamin Moore, which looks perfect to me (image from House Beautiful's website).

Momofuku at Williams-Sonoma

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I love flipping through the Williams-Sonoma catalog and fantasizing that money is no object and I have a kitchen approximately the size of our apartment in which to store pots, pans and dishes. Yesterday, I was surprised to see that the company is now carrying a line of Momofuku-branded products. There are two cooking sauces and three cookie mixes.

I was surprised because Momofuku seems like such an independent enterprise and David Chang isn't exactly the Barefoot Contessa and is known to be a bit of a rogue. As a consumer I was also a little shocked at the prices ($16.95 for the 16 oz. jar and $16 for a mix that yields 12 cookies), but I suppose that's a lot less expensive than a trip to New York to taste Momofuku and Momofuku Milk's delicacies in person. If the recipe for corn cookies in Lucky Peach doesn't work out, I might just have to try that mix myself.

On a side note, Williams-Sonoma is selling something they are billing as "mac-and-cheese starter," which just sounds vile to me. Do you agree? I know people are busy, but how hard is it to make macaroni and cheese? If you're pressed for time, Annie's Shells & White Cheddar is pretty delicious and a fraction of the price.

Best Interior Design Pinners to Follow on Pinterest

Monday, January 23, 2012

Want to know who to follow on Pinterest? Yeah, me too! I'm not sure when it happened, but Pinterest no longer suggests pinners to follow, which I am sure must be frustrating if you are new to the site. For those of you unfamiliar with Pinterest, it is a virtual bulletin board where you can share inspiring images. I usually find people to follow when I see that someone I follow is re-pinning images from someone else, but it's hard to search for new people to follow.

I love gathering inspiration from other pinners on Pinterest, so I figured I would make a list of my top ten interior design pinner to follow on Pinterest. In no particular order, here are my favorites:

Brick House Much like her blog, Morgan Satterfield's pinboards are full of mid-century modern design and spare, clean interiors, and she's definitely got a California cool vibe that I admire.

Grant K. Gibson Named a designer to watch by ELLE DECOR magazine, Gibson's style was described by the magazine as "eclectic, livable and easy on the eyes." (Pssst... Here's his San Francisco apartment in the New York Times.)

West Elm Seriously. This retailer is great at pinning inspiring images of interiors and creating interesting themed boards, and I feel flattered every time West Elm repins something I posted.

Katy Elliott A self-described "blogger renovating an old house in New England," Katy's style is timeless and would appeal to many people, especially those interested in the decoration/restoration of older houses.

Lindsey Herod. An interior designer at Kemble Interiors, it's no surprise that Herod picks interesting things to pin to her boards.

Emily Henderson Who doesn't adore this blogger and host of Secrets From a Stylist? Personally I love seeing what inspires her, both for the home and for fashion.

Cowboys & Cadillacs I always find myself re-pinning images that this blogger posts to her Pinterest boards. Perhaps I am drawn to her since she's a fellow organized bibliophile? (We both have boards labelled 'Libraries,' 'Offices' and 'Organizing.')

Jordan Ferney, with more than 160,500 followers, the woman behind Oh Happy Day hardly needs my endorsement, but she's definitely one of my faves. I especially love her party- and entertaining-related pins.

Jessica @ Black. White. Yellow. Jessica and I both have a thing for black and white interiors. If you do too, you'll be sure to find inspiration in her pins.

Erica Reitman The author of several blogs, Reitman wins points for volume: At present she has more than 3,000 pins! Her blog, Design Blahg, is often snarky, but that doesn't stop her from pinning lots of pretty snark-free things.

BONUS: ME (aka LittleHouseNYC)! I pin all sorts of things that inspire me, and if you've read this whole post through, you should definitely follow my boards! Okay, your turn: Who do you follow for interior design inspiration on Pinterest? Leave a comment to let me know.

Have You Seen Lucky Peach?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lucky Peach is a new magazine being published by McSweeney's and Momofuku’s David Chang.  I read a post on Ruth Reichl's blog in which she praised the publication, so I made a note to check it out. Shortly thereafter, I saw a copy for sale at Greenlight, our beloved, local bookstore and decided to give it a whirl.

It's a very odd little magazine. Reichl calls it, "fearless, irreverent, well-written and brilliantly art-directed." I'd agree with her on almost all points except the art direction -- the look of the magazine doesn't really appeal to me (sometimes it seems like the editors at Lucky Peach are more interested in grossing you out than getting you excited about food). However, I loved the articles I read, and I would definitely pick up another issue in the future. There's also one thing about this magazine that made it worth the hefty cover price: The recipe for Momofuku Milk's corn cookie! This is THE BEST COOKIE EVER; if you haven't ever had one and you live in New York City, head directly to the bakery and buy yourself a corn cookie. For those of you who don't,  I will dutifully make the recipe and report back to you about my results.

Loving Winter Salads

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Do you tend to cook different things in the winter than you do in the summer? I sure do. It's pretty rare that we eat red meat in our house, but with a snap of cold weather in New York City, we had lamb loin chops on Sunday and a nice steak last night. To accompany the lamb chops I made some couscous and two winter salads inspired by Melissa Clark's Cook This Now.

The first was a simple salad of sliced oranges, and you really don't even need a recipe. Simply cut off the peels and slice several citrus fruits (I used 1 navel orange, 1 blood orange and 1 clementine for the two of us). Lay them on a plate and drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle on coarse salt, ground pepper and just a bit of chilli powder, then top with chopped black olives and herbs of your choice (I used cilantro).

The second was a great winter salad with a simple, but delicious cheese-and-walnut-spiked dressing. I altered the quantities a bit, but basically followed Clark's recipe.

Winter Salad with Fennel Radicchio, Walnuts, and Parmesean
Adapted from Cook This Now
Serves 2-3

1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 fat garlic clove, finely shopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
about 1 oz. Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 large head radicchio, quartered lengthwise and cored
1 endive head
1 small-ish fennel bulb, fronds removed

1. In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic.  Whisk in the oil.  Use a Microplane or other grater to finely grate the cheese into the dressing  Whisk walnuts into the vinaigrette (it should be fairly thick).
2. Thinly slice each radicchio wedge crosswise and transfer to a large salad bowl. Thinly slice each endive crosswise and add to bowl. Trim the stems from the fennel and remove the outer layers.  Cut the fennel bulb in half from top to bottom.  Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, shave the fennel into paper thin slices.  Add to the salad bowl.
3. Pour half the the vinaigrette over the salad and toss well.  If it seems dry, add more dressing.

Cranberry-Orange Nut Bread

Sunday, January 15, 2012

This recipe is a Christmas favorite in the Fenton family, but it would be good any time of the year that you can get your hands of fresh cranberries. The recipe hails from an old copy of Betty Crocker’s Christmas Cookbook, which is the source for quite a few of my mother's holiday baked goods. She notes that sometimes she doubles the recipe, which then fits in five small loaf pans. I made a batch just before Christmas, and just thawed the remaining frozen bread, lightly toasted with or without butter, it's a lovely morning treat.
Cranberry-Orange Nut Bread
From Betty Crocker’s Christmas Cookbook

2 cups flour   
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp baking soda
¼ cup softened butter
1 Tb. grated orange peel
¾ cup orange juice
1 egg
1 cup chopped cranberries
½ cup chopped walnuts

1. Heat oven to 350, and grease the bottom of a 9x5 loaf pan.
2. Mix together the dry ingredients and then stir in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.
3. Stir in the orange peel, orange juice, and egg just until all of the flour is moistened.
4. Stir in the chopped cranberries and walnuts and pour (or spread) into the baking pan.
5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Loosen the side of the loaf from pan and remove from pan. Cool before slicing.

2012 Foodie Reading List

Friday, January 13, 2012

I read a lot. In addition to the many newspapers and magazines I read each month, I usually take in ate least two full-length books, and I wish I had time to read more. Reading about food is a favorite pastime, and I will even sit down with a cookbook and read it like a novel. So, I would love to add more food-related tomes into my rotation this year. Here are a few titles I have bookmarked as ones to-read:

The Sweet Life In Paris
My parents sent this to me before my trip to Paris, and instead of tearing through it by myself, I decided I would read it out loud to my husband on our trip, so we could both enjoy it together. I had no idea how slowly we'd move through it (we are nowhere near to done), but it's been fun to share this book.
The Apprentice: My Life In The Kitchen
Jacques Pepin, let me count the ways in which I love him. I gave this book to my mother for Christmas, and I'm hoping she might lend it to me to read after she has finished.

The Table Comes First
I fell in love with Adam Gopnik as an undergraduate reading the New Yorker. The "Paris Journals" were wonderful, and my heart nearly broke when he came back to the States. (It occurs to me that surely, David Lebowitz has read Gopnik's collection of essays from that period.) I got over it when I realized how much I enjoyed Gopnik's writing about New York. I'll read pretty much anything he writes, and if it's about food, all the better!

Best Food Writing 2011
Growing up my parents always got the best short fiction collections of each year. Starting with 2011, I'd like to get into the habit of purchasing the best food writing.

What about you? Have you read any good food-related books recently? Do you have anything to recommend? 

Japanese Whale Knives

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How adorable are these Japanese whale knives? I spotted them in a recent issue of Time Out New York. Apparently, EN Japanese Brasserie, the restaurant, has launched a small boutique selling artisanal Japanese household crafts, including these artisanal knives ($48 each). EN Japanese Brasserie, 435 Hudson St at Leroy St (212-647-9196).

A Word About Ricotta

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Good ricotta makes all the difference. While I feel mildly insane paying $7 for a 16 oz. tub of ricotta, when I could pay half that, I know that it's worth every penny. I picked up this "Renaissance Ricotta" from the Narragansett Creamery at our local gourmet food shop, The Greene Grape Provisions. It is heavenly. The kettle heated, hand-dipped, un-homogenized ricotta is thick, smooth and creamy.

I used it in the Ricotta and Chard Tart I made (delicious!), and was left with a good half a container of this glorious stuff. So, I spread it on some toasted baguette and topped it with chopped cherry tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper for lunch yesterday. Today, I'm trying to figure out what I can put it on, so that I don't resort to eating it directly out of the container with a spoon. If you find this at your local market, buy it, trust me, it is really worth it.

Chard and Ricotta Tart

Monday, January 09, 2012

Here's an interesting dessert for you to try: A chard, raisin, pine nut and ricotta tart. I recently made this recipe from David Tanis's Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys and was pleased with the results. While chard may sound like an unlikely candidate for a dessert ingredient, Tanis revelas it is a traditional ingredient in sweets in the South of France and Italy. Sure enough, my sister who spends each summer in Nice, immediately identified this unusual tart as similar to a traditional Niçoise dish.

The pastry puffs up quite a bit making it more cake-like than what I would normally label a tart. Overall it's not too sweet and it tastes just as nice the day after as it did the day I made it, making it a perfect mid-morning treat with some coffee. Tanis recommended serving it with mint tea, which I did for our guests.

Side note: I couldn't resist photographing it on these Provençal linens from Williams-Sonoma, which were a wedding gift from my sister and her boyfriend. Aren't they lovely?

Chard and Ricotta Tart
From David Tanis's The Heart of the Artichoke

For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
Grated zest of ½ lemon

For the filling:
1 large bunch Swiss chard, trimmed, ribs discarded, and cut into ½-inch-wide strips (about 4 cups)
1 cup whole-milk ricotta
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
Grated zest of ½ lemon
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ cup golden raisins, soaked in warm water until plumped
¼ cup pine nuts

1. For the dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the flat beater, mix the dry ingredients on low speed. Add the butter and mix for about 2 minutes more, until crumbly. Add the egg mixture and the lemon zest and mix another minute, or until you can pinch the dough together. Turn the dough out and form 2 balls, one twice as big as the other. Chill for at least an hour.
2. For the filling: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the chard for 1 minute; drain well. Let cool, and squeeze out any liquid.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the ricotta, egg, sugar, lemon zest, and spices.
4 . Dust a pastry cloth with flour and roll out the larger dough ball into a circle 2 inches larger than the diameter of your 9- or 10-inch springform pan. Roll the dough onto the rolling pin, then carefully unroll it over the pan and gently press it into place, so that it comes about 2 inches up the sides of the pan. Expect the dough to be pretty soft; if it tears, just press on a scrap to cover any holes.
5. Drain the raisins, mix them with the greens, and spread over the dough in the pan. Pour the ricotta mixture over the greens and smooth out. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the ricotta.
6. To make the lattice top, roll out the second piece of dough into a 1/8-inch-thick rectangle. Cut the dough into ¾-inch-wide strips. Fashion a lattice top by alternating crosswise and lengthwise strips. Leave a gap of ¾ inch between strips running in the same direction. Fold the edges of the bottom crust over the ends of the lattice strips.
7. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the crust is golden. Cool on a rack before serving.

Where I've Been

Why, hello again! It's hard to believe it's already January 9th. I've had a glorious two weeks off from work. My husband and I travelled to France and Belgium for a belated honeymoon trip. It was an amazing trip and I feel recharged and ready for the New Year. I've got lots to post about, so stay tuned.

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